A Letter from the President: February 2017

Posted on Feb 02, 2017
Taylor, Julia

Two businesses opened doors in Milwaukee over the past few months that will impact Milwaukee much more than normal business openings.
Zurn’s new Headquarters building became the first company to locate in the Reed Street Yards, a water technology and research park. And, Tandem, a new restaurant in Lindsay Heights, opened its doors and created a new business structure for neighborhood ownership and talent curation.
 
The move of the Zurn Headquarters to Milwaukee demonstrates the impact and growth of the water cluster and the work of the Water Council and its partners, including UWM’s School of Freshwater Management and MMSD. Zurn’s parent company is Rexnord, whose headquarters are located in the Global Water Center a few hundred yards away. Since 2007, under the leadership of Todd Adams, President and CEO, Rexnord has invested in the water management industry that today makes up 40% of Rexnord’s sales.
 
So, why pick Milwaukee for the Zurn Headquarters site?
 
According to Todd, it’s the talent, the cluster of water technology industries, the research, and the Water Council that make Milwaukee an attractive site. The City and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation both invested in the move, and from the beginning, supported the Water Council and the water technology cluster. This is another tangible outcome of the belief and work of many in the Water Council over the years including Dean Amhaus, Rich Meeusen, Paul Jones, Todd Adams, Mayor Barrett, Rocky Marcoux, Lee Swindall, Carlos Santiago, Mike Lovell, Mark Mone, Kevin Shafer, David Garman and of course, the GMC. I will always remember Rocky drawing a circle on a map during the Strategic Action Session eight years ago around the vacant and contaminated old railroad switching yard called the Reed Street Yards and committing to develop a tax incremental financing district for a Water Technology Park. Today, I can look out my office window at the Reed Street Yards, a showcase of green infrastructure and sustainable site design with the new Zurn Headquarters right there in plain sight, and know we are just starting the growth of Milwaukee as the world’s water hub. If you haven’t toured the Global Water Center or seen the Reed Street Yards development, please get in touch and I will give you a tour.
 
In December, Gary Witt, Executive Director of the Pabst Theater Group, invited me to lunch at Tandem, a restaurant that recently opened at the original site of the Wally Schmidt Tavern. Tandem is at 1841 W. Fond Du Lac Avenue just a few miles from the Sherman Park uprising this summer. Tandem plays a number of key roles in the community. In a neighborhood with few restaurants and a connecting point to downtown, Tandem is in the right place to connect the dots. Juli Kaufmann of Fix Development and Jeremy Davis from Walnut Way Conservation Corp. undertook the development and renovation. There are now over 40 small investors in the project who live in the neighborhood and have provided either cash or sweat equity. Chef and Manager Caitlin Cullen, formerly with the Top 30 Restaurant Bavette, is also an educator and created a marvelous menu. Her work with Tandem has led to a recipe (pun intended) that many can learn from in creating a neighborhood talent pipeline. She employs young neighborhood people and trains them to work both in the back and front of the house and the kitchen, preparing them to be able to move to positions with other restaurants. Caitlin is working with the Bartolottas on this talent pipeline project.
 
When Gary and I had lunch, there was a large table of 15-20 neighborhood women celebrating a birthday, several downtown young professionals, and my neighbor at a nearby table. Our server was a young man who had worked for two weeks with the professionalism of an experienced, successful server. And, the food was great! Gary was setting Caitlin up with a DJ turntable and music for the evening crowd.  He is a great community advocate for this restaurant with a double bottom line. So, please, stop by The Tandem, 1841 W. Fond Du Lac Ave. for lunch or dinner and call them for catering opportunities. Let’s support this important neighborhood investment. Caitlin Cullens’ contact info is caitcull@gmail.com or call 248-508-9535.

Sincerely,

Julia Taylor
President
Greater Milwaukee Committee